Written on 01/01/2015
Keeon Minors

Justin and I recently traveled to Bermuda for four days. Like most holidays, we could have easily spent way more time there, exploring the country or simply soaking up the sun. We had a great first impression of the island, making several discoveries during our introductory visit. Here are the top 10 things we learned about Bermuda.

#1 – The people are extremely friendly.

We were really impressed with just how nice everyone was here! Perhaps living in such a gorgeous setting puts you in a permanently good mood. Whatever the reasoning, we found that the locals were extremely friendly and helpful. For instance, if you need help with directions to a place and you’re looking at a map, someone will likely come to your assistance and point you in the right direction. Justin and I were on scooters stopped at a red light in an intersection and were confused about which way we should turn to get back to our hotel. A Bermudian who was sitting up on their porch must have heard our conversation and yelled over to us, “Where are you looking to go?” and perfectly guided us to our destination! On another occasion, we were using the GoPro that we won in the contest to shoot video of some artwork along Front Street in Hamilton. A man approached us asking if we were interested in art, and we got into an in-depth conversation about the sculptures around town. It was very refreshing to be able to easily chat with Bermudians, whether it be on the street or during a taxi ride. It really helped us to learn more about the culture and daily life on the island.

#2 – You must say hello to everyone.

I’m not kidding! Whether you’re walking down the street, getting on the bus, or passing someone in a hallway, you must greet them and even ask how they are doing. If you don’t say hello, good morning, good afternoon, or so on, it is considered to be highly rude and you’ll get a bad reputation there. I might have been a “tourist”, but I try to follow the local traditions as much as possible when I visit a place. I happily greeted everyone wherever I went. And I really enjoyed it, and got quite used to it! I really wish it was like this everywhere. Not to say that Canadians are rude or cold, but I feel as though if I walked down the street in Toronto and said hello to everyone, people would either give me a dirty look or assume I was crazy.

#3 – Bermuda has close ties with Toronto.

I had no idea that Bermudians were so connected to people from the Toronto area or Canadians in general. It seemed as though everyone we spoke with who asked where we were from would say, “Oh, I was just in Toronto a couple of weeks ago!”, “I lived in Toronto for a short while”, “I have family in the Toronto area”, “My wife is from Toronto”, or “I studied at a university in Ontario”. We discovered that many Bermudians study at college or university in Ontario, and have everlasting friendships or relationships with people from the city. On our flight to Bermuda, we noticed that the amount of Bermudians on the flight outnumbered the visitors! Toronto is actually one of the only cities in the world that has two flights daily to Bermuda (Air Canada and WestJet), so you will have no problem getting over there if you’re from this region. The flight is really short for those visiting from the east coast of North America – it’s only two and a half hours from Toronto, and just under two hours from New York City. Bermuda could actually make for the perfect weekend getaway for those living in the Toronto area.

#4 – Bermuda is expensive.

This might be a well-known fact, but we found most things in Bermuda to be more expensive than what we would pay at home. At one spot, we paid $3 for a bottle of water! The average home in Bermuda costs one million dollars, and you can purchase attached townhouses for $750,000. The standard amount for rent in a small apartment can cost $1500 a month and up. After all, Bermuda is one of the most affluent nations in the world, and we saw no shortage of fancy yachts and mansions overlooking the ocean. For some people, it is necessary to work two different jobs to afford the cost of living.

#5 – Bermuda has an abundance of great wildlife.

We discovered many animals that live on the island that make themselves quite visible (or audible!). First of all, what you won’t find on the island are snakes. You won’t have to worry about one slithering across your path when you go hiking. There are also no ticks on the island, and there are rarely mosquitoes. Instead of snakes, you will find manylizards, though you’ll often have to search them out on the sides of tree trunks or hidden in the foliage. What you will see all over the island are wild chickens and feral cats. You can hear roosters crowing and see large groups of chickens walking around one after the other. You’ll also see many feral cats that roam around Bermuda, some being much friendlier than others. Many of the cats approached us and enjoyed some scratches behind the ear. There is a yellow-breasted bird that lives in Bermuda called the Kiskadee. You can recognize its call because it chirps its own name, “Kiss-ka-deeee!” At night, I loved hearing the raucous trills of the tree frogs, and now that I’m back at home, I miss hearing their echoing calls. And of course, I must mention the abundance of fish that live around the beaches surrounding Bermuda. We saw some enormous parrotfishes when we went snorkeling, as well as many other species of fish.

#6 – The unique buildings of Bermuda.

The homes and buildings in Bermuda are painted all sorts of bright colours. There are many pastel-coloured buildings, as well as some brighter ones in more blinding neon shades. It is up to the discretion of the homeowner to paint their house whichever colour that they’d like. Homes tend to be painted every 4-5 years. Pastel pink is a very popular colour as it is reminiscent of the island’s pink sand beaches. However, the most interesting part of the home is actually the roof. All of the roofs in Bermuda are white and terraced. There is no public water system in Bermuda, and each resident is responsible for collecting their own water. It is collected from the roofs of their houses and stored in water tanks for future use. The roofs are painted white because the white cement wash compound sanitizes the rainwater as it runs off into the storage tanks. Also, any debris on the white roof can be easily spotted and cleared away.

#7 – The many modes of transportation in Bermuda.

When you visit Bermuda, you will not be able to rent a car. Driving a car is limited to residents only, and there is a limit of one car per household. Bermuda is the fifth smallest country in the world and the third most densely populated place on earth. Limiting the amount of cars on the roads is definitely a wise choice as there simply isn’t enough room for a ton of them! However, there are many ways to get around the island without needing a car. One popular choice is to rent a scooter. Bermudians are allowed to drive scooters when they turn 16, and aren’t permitted to learn how to drive a car until they turn 18. You’ll see plenty of fearless scooter riders weaving in and out of traffic, putting themselves into sketchy situations. Driving a scooter around Bermuda isn’t for the faint of heart; in fact, it can be quite dangerous. You have to remember to drive on the left side of the road, and navigating the abundance of roundabouts can be quite nerve-wracking for the inexperienced (ahem…me!). If the weather is rainy or windy, don’t put yourself into a dangerous situation if you aren’t familiar with riding a scooter. You can also take the public buses around the island. There are buses that travel to every area of Bermuda, and they’re very easy to figure out. I highly recommend purchasing a bus pass and taking them wherever you need to go. You can also take the ferry to several spots around Bermuda. Pay close attention to the ferry schedule as they tend to operate on limited hours during the weekend and in the off-season (November – April). Finally, you can take a taxi around the island, though this is a very expensive option. You’ve been warned!

#8 – Bermuda has delicious official beverages.

If you enjoy having a drink now and again, you must try the two official beverages of Bermuda – the “Rum Swizzle” and the “Dark n’ Stormy“. The Rum Swizzle is said to have originated at a famous restaurant and bar in town called the Swizzle Inn. It is a rum cocktail consisting of amber rum, dark rum, and a blend of tropical juices. The Dark ‘n Stormy is comprised of Gosling’s Black Seal (a brand of dark rum produced on the island) and the island’s soda beverage, Ginger Beer. If you’re not into mixed drinks, try the ginger beer on its own – it is pretty sweet, but quite refreshing!

#9 – There are hundreds of caves in Bermuda.

Though there are two famous public caves, Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves, there are literally hundreds of caves all over Bermuda. In Hamilton Parish, there are over a hundred caves alone that are beneath almost every step you take! You can explore the commercial caves on a tour, or take a tour with Hidden Gems to discover some caves off the beaten path (more about our incredible experiences with that later!). You can even swim inside some of the caves.

#10 – The Beaches

I wouldn’t dare write a top 10 article about Bermuda without mentioning the beaches. The pink sand beaches is what may attract so many tourists to the island, and with excellent reason. They are breathtaking. These peachy sand beaches and turquoise waters are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever witnessed. We visited the popular Horseshoe Bay Beach (not so crowded during the end of October!) and Clearwater Beach at the Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve. There are a ton of beaches in Bermuda, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.